Thursday

23rd May 2019

Stage set for budget showdown as MEPs back spending hike

  • The straight-talking Polish Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

The EU is set for a budget-showdown between government ministers and the European Parliament after MEPs backed spending hikes for the 2013 settlement and the next seven year budget framework.

During a marathon voting session in Strasbourg on Tuesday (23 October), MEPs demanded "significant increases" in spending on infrastructure projects and research and innovation.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

They also voted to keep spending on the controversial common agricultural policy and cohesion funds aimed at the poorest regions of the EU at their 2007-13 spending levels. They also want to ensure that the planned financial transaction tax, set to be adopted by eleven member states, is considered with VAT as an 'own-resource' to be used to reduce the budget contributions of the countries using it.

The seven year Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF) sets the ceiling for up to €1 trillion of EU spending between 2014 and 2020, estimated at 1.03% of EU GDP. Five north European countries, led by Germany, France and the UK, insist that they will oppose any increase of the seven year budget cycle above the inflation rate.

A special EU budget summit has been convened for the 22-23 November in a bid to agree a negotiating mandate for the member states who will then do battle with a three-man team led by French centre-right MEP, Alain Lamassoure, from the Parliament's Budget committee.

Bulgarian centre-left member, Ivailo Kalfin, another of the EU assembly's budget team, said "the EU budget is an investment tool to support long-term development and strategic European co-operation." In a sideswipe at member states, he added that funds were needed to put the much heralded 'Growth and Jobs pact' agreed by EU leaders in June, into reality.

Meanwhile, in a veiled threat to UK Prime Minister David Cameron, German centre-right deputy Reimer Böge warned that failure to reach agreement would be "very costly for the UK". If a deal between governments and the parliament is not reached the 2013 budget would roll over into 2014, with an automatic 2 percent inflation-based increase.

The parliament also defied member states on the 2013 settlement, backing the Commission proposal for a €9 billion increase on 2012, taking the budget to €138 billion. The EU executive has argued that the extra cash is needed to cover bills for existing projects agreed by member states.

The commission also published plans for an emergency budget to plug an estimated €9 billion shortfall for payments.

Polish EU Budget Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski blamed national governments for the funding shortfall, telling them that the extra cash was needed because "you spent too much" and stating that the budget was needed to reimburse payments made by member states.

"I have repeatedly warned that constant cuts in the proposed budget will eventually create a big problem. This time has come. Our situation does not allow us to deliver on our agreed commitments," he said.

Ministers and MEPs should "now take their responsibilities since they voted an EU budget below its needs," he added.

The EU executive confirmed that the Erasmus programme, which funds students to take courses in other EU countries, needed a €90 million injection to maintain payments, while €423 million was needed for research programmes "in order to pay in time and avoids interest on delayed payments."

Lewandowski singled out Spain and Italy for making late payment requests that could not be covered by the 2011 budget and had been rolled over onto the 2012 deal.

However, national governments will only be asked to contribute €5.9 billion, with most of the remaining €3.1 billion expected to come from fines resulting from anti-trust and competition policy violations.

UK threatens to veto EU budget

British conservative Prime Minister David Cameron has said he will block the upcoming EU seven-year budget cycle if it goes against UK interests.

New EU budget proposal cuts across red lines

The Cypriot presidency has proposed cutting €50 billion off EU spending plans for 2014 to 2020 - a number that could trigger national vetoes and strikes by EU staff.

News in Brief

  1. Switzerland unlikely to sign draft EU deal
  2. UK sacked defence secretary backs Johnson for leader
  3. Dutch voter turnout so far slightly down on 2014
  4. Report: Hungary's Fidesz 'bought' Belgian official
  5. Poll: Denmark set to double number of liberal MEPs
  6. European brands 'breaking' chemical safety rules
  7. Report: Merkel was lobbied to accept EU top job
  8. May struggling to get Brexit deal passed at fourth vote

Magazine

The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.

Magazine

Explained: What is the European Parliament?

While domestic political parties often use the European Parliament as a dumping ground for unwanted politicians - and a majority of citizens don't bother to vote - the parliament, over the years, has become a dominant force in the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Latest News

  1. Polling booths open in UK's limbo EU election
  2. Dutch PM puts EU exit on agenda with election gamble
  3. EU development aid used to put European police in Senegal
  4. EU should stop an insane US-Iran war
  5. EU faces moment of truth at midnight on Sunday
  6. Dutch MPs: EU sanctions should bear Magnitsky name
  7. Far-right hate speech flooded Facebook ahead of EU vote
  8. Key details on how Europeans will vote

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  3. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  8. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  9. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  10. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  11. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us